As Celebrities Call For Georgia Film Boycott, Industry Workers Yell 'Cut'
Georgia's new elections law has brought sweeping changes to the state's electoral system — including imposing new restrictions on absentee voting, vote counting, and the distribution of food and water in polling lines.
Critics have been vocal about the changes, including Georgia's newly elected Sen. Raphael Warnock, who likened the law's passage to "modern day Jim Crow."
Now, some opponents of the bill around the country have suggested more drastic measures be taken in response, including hitting Georgia in a place where it could really hurt — the state's $2 billion film industry.
Indiana Jones director James Mangold and Star Wars actor Mark Hamill were among those who vocalized support of a boycott on Twitter.
Hamill expressed his enthusiasm with a hashtag #NoMoreFilmingInGeorgia.
But some film workers in the industry have said the move does more harm to their ability to make a living than the state leaders behind the law.
Kit Fay, a set electrician and dimmer tech in Atlanta who has worked on productions such as The Walking Dead and Respect, said that any boycott of Georgia's film industry can't be unilateral.
"I think a successful boycott really needs to involve union input so that the workers are able to help prepare for and have a say in those impacts," they said.
Additionally, Fay said a boycott could be harmful to those it aims to support.
"I think a boycott that comes completely from the outside is going to hurt a lot of people who are also being harmed by voter disenfranchisement as well as a lot of other working-class Georgians," they said.
John Draekul, who runs an independent film production company in the state, agreed.
"I don't think [a boycott] is a good idea," he said. "You have to keep in mind that the majority of people employed by the film industry in Georgia are not salaried. They can only earn a living if there are films being made in Georgia."
Instead, he thinks there are opportunities for the film industry in the state to be mobilized for voter turnout.
"If the big issue is that it can be difficult for some individuals to vote, the film industry could help citizens to meet the requirements to vote," he said. "Every eligible voice should be heard. Some people may need help. Help them to have their voices heard."
Glen Peison, who has worked as a prop designer on Netflix productions in the state, said he sympathizes with the idea but not with the execution.
"Mark Hamill is a hero of mine, but this is not the way," he said. "In ‘18 we stayed, we fought and in 2020, we won. That’s the way forward. Don’t run from a fight. Put in the work. Support the people who support voting rights, which is all of my brothers and sisters working in this industry. His heart is in the right place. His aim is not quite as good as it was in the trench of the Death Star."
Peison also echoed concerns about what a boycott could mean for the livelihoods of those who work in the industry here in the state.
"I’m a 37-year-old guy who lives and owns property in Atlanta," he said. "I love my city. I want good things for my city. The industry is directly providing tens of thousands of good paying jobs and is a major boost to our state’s economy. You have to spend a little to make a little and the benefits my industry brings to my state vastly outweighs the cost in terms of the tax incentive."
A colorist, who wanted to stay anonymous due to concerns over their livelihood, vocalized similar sentiments.
"I’m not a fan of the film industry being used as a pressure point by people who don’t live here," they said. "It affects boycotters none to make threats of withdrawing, but causes local film workers anxiety and uncertainty about whether their entire industry will pack up and leave them jobless."
The film and television industries in Georgia generated $9.5 billion in 2018, according to state statistics.
GPB News reached out to representatives of Hamill and Mangold for comment but has not heard back as of the time of publication.